After spending this past weekend snowbound, enjoying the beauty of the winter wonderland while resisting the need to clear the walkway, vehicles, driveway and deck, I was thrilled to receive my first plant catalog of 2019 in today's mail from Brent & Becky's Bulbs. I tolerate winter and inclement weather. Because of my geographic location in Northwestern Virginia, it is impossible to escape despite being "technically" in the "south". To survive the months where my feet stay numb from the cold, I dream of the approaching spring and start to think about planting flowers, shrubs, fruits, vegetables and herbs. And, my Dad shared photographs of his pussy willow starts that he cultivated from cuttings, which really started my mind churning.
While we have endeavored with mixed success to carve a bit of Eden from the hardscrabble landscape on our windy, rocky ridge for the last thirteen years using a pick, Cub Cadet and 24 inch auger, we haven't lost our optimism and have started to see that sometime in our lifetimes there may be an area of lushness at least around the backyard deck. Trees are beginning to mature. We've discovered shrubs that will tolerate the harsh conditions. And we've learned to use vines and planters to bring color to the deck.
Last year was the first time we tried raised garden beds with Mel's Mix using the square foot gardening method. I tried starting some plants from seeds indoors. There was a lot of trial, error and lessons learned. I discovered peat pots dry out quickly. Miss just a few days of watering and everything wilts. None of the peppers survived. The tomato plants thrived until the continued torrential rains with nominal sunlight throughout summer stunted the production of actual fruit. The melons did well until the raccoons pilfered them. The African marigolds were beautiful. I planted those in the raised beds to deter pests; however, this type of marigold grew so huge that the flowers blocked the minimal sunlight we had from the seedlings. I misjudged some companion planting, underplanted beans, and waited too late to plant lettuce, spinach, peas and other cooler season vegetables. The first planting of potato did well. The deer ate the fall crop. Note to self: build the fence!!!
I also discovered that it doesn't make sense to plant tulips on our property. I love the vast variety of colors and shapes of tulips available. Deer eat tulips. Deer eat tulip bulbs. So, I will plant no more tulips. Deer tend avoid daffodils. So, I've learned to appreciate daffodils. Squirrels like daffodils; but our roving attack cats have protected the property from thieving squirrels. Regretfully, they've made friends with the raccoons and the deer are fearless.
So, back to dreaming of springtime and planning the garden. Before long the crocus will bloom, my feet will warm and the cycle of life continues.
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